A trail, complete with cool stairs and abandoned ruins, on an island in the middle of town is something my childhood self would have been absolutely over the moon with. From a drone’s eye view, I think that sense of magic is effectively captured.
This image is my submission to the Spring Photo Contest being run by Grasse River Heritage; the river and its associated park are its subject. I delight in being asked to work under requirements—in this case, both a subject and a time of year—because I feel it focuses me. I get to achieve something specific, which adds some delightful pressure to flying my quadcopter around the island.
The most senior faculty member in St. Lawrence University’s Department of Chemistry is preparing to retire and I selected this image to present to him. (Shhh, keep it a secret for a few more days.) He often looks out from Johnson Hall of Science, the building in the foreground, north towards the older parts of campus (like the chapel spire above the horizon.) In this image, I hopefully captured for him both where he stands and what he sees so that he can take them with him when he goes.
Over the course of the past two years, I’ve used OpenSCAD to design a gas/vacuum cell that can support a pressed silica nanoparticle pellet in front of a variety of spectroscopy systems. The core of the cell was 3D printed in aluminum by Shapeways, with some subsequent facing on our lathe to get good seals with the O-rings. This first version is designed to fit into our fluorimeter.
After using the first cell for a year, I realized I also wanted to be able to attach it to a fiber-optic-based spectrometer. Here, you can see the second cell attached to our Schlenk line.
This is my Schlenk line; there are many like it, but this one is mine. The double-manifold design allows my students and me to expose samples to either vacuum or inert gas (argon, in this case.) Every line has little tweaks and customizations made by the scientist using it, and is thus inevitably a work-in-progress. This particular line very much needs a full-time vacuum gauge as its next addition.
In addition to photography, I’ve been exploring 3D printing in the past few years. I’ve found that it’s a great route to making small objects to support my science work. In this case, I was developing a holder to support a 12.7 mm pressed solid sample pellet inside the space normally occupied by a 10-cm pathlength liquid-handling cuvette. The result is this odd rectangular shape that unlocks to hold the “too wide” pellet diagonally—thanks, square root of two!
In these forms, I was working with a variety of materials, including glass-reinforced nylon, lost-wax-cast brass, and a bronze/steel powder combination.
There are plenty of historical reasons (including the original St. Lawrence University’s acquisition of the adjacent agricultural college), but the clustering of the school’s STEM-focused buildings on one side of campus—the arts/humanities at the other extreme and most of the social sciences in the middle—has resulted in a literal mapping of the academic spectrum onto physical space.